By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of the “No-Cry Solution” book series
Learn about it
A baby’s first tantrum can take you by surprise. Your baby can really shock you by shrieking, stamping, hitting, or making his whole body go stiff. But don’t take it personally; baby tantrums aren’t about anything you’ve done wrong, and they aren’t really about temper, either – your baby isn’t old enough for that. The ways you’ll respond to your baby’s behavior when he is older are different than how you should respond now.
Why babies have tantrums and what you can do about it
A baby tantrum is an abrupt and sudden loss of emotional control. Various factors bring tantrums on, and if you can identify the trigger, then you can help him calm down ¾ and perhaps even avoid the tantrum in the first place. Here are the common reasons and ways to solve the problem:
How to prevent baby tantrums
Often, you can prevent a baby from losing control of his emotions if you prevent the situations that lead up to this. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- When baby is tired, put him down for a nap or to sleep.
- Feed your baby frequently. Babies have small tummies and need regular nourishment.
- Give your baby toys that are geared to his age and ability level.
- Warn your baby before changing activities (One more swing, then we're going home.)
- Be patient when putting your baby in an unfamiliar environment or when introducing him to new people.
- Help your baby learn new skills (such as climbing stairs or working puzzles).
- Keep your expectations realistic; don't expect more than your baby is capable of.
- As much as possible, keep a regular and predictable schedule.
- When your baby is overly emotional, keep yourself as calm as possible.
- Use a soothing tone of voice and gentle touch to help your baby calm down. He can't do it on his own, he needs your help.
by permission of Elizabeth Pantley, author of the “No-Cry Solution” book
Let’s talk about the time Louis slapped me across the face.
Here’s the scene: Louis wants to have a sip of soda from my cup.... I’m holding him, I said “oh no that’s mommy’s soda, your cup is right here” in the nicest possible voice... he reaches out to grab for his cup (or so I think)... but then WHAM! Right in the face, open palm and all. And it hurt – there’s a lot of force in those chubby little hands. I thought terrible started at two, not at one and a half.
Let’s rewind to the week before this incident when I was at the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s conference on Curriculum Development and Guiding Children’s Behavior, where I was soaking up knowledge
from very educated people on how to handle challenging behaviors. I learned that when children exhibit challenging behaviors it is our job as parents and educators to guide them in the right path, that children are not aggressive on
purpose, but rather because they haven’t learned impulse control and they don’t know any better. I nodded my head along with the speaker thinking “that’s right, if children don’t know their letters, we teach them. If children don’t know how to tie their shoes, we teach them. If children don’t know how to behave, we teach them.”
These are not the thoughts that ran from my stinging cheek to my head that day. It hurt and I almost dropped him on his little cushiony bum. Instead, I took a deep breath, looked at his angry little face, held it together and said “Louis you look very angry. You need to keep your hands on your own body, you hurt mommy.” Then he hit me in the face again. Did I mention we were at grandma’s house and my mom was watching? So I knew I had to get it right. I put him down and said “No thank you Louis. That hurts me.”
We all know what followed – the kicking, the screaming, the hitting the floor. During his tantrum, I said “You are angry now, but you will feel better soon.” After his tantrum, I handed him his cup again and gave him a snuggle.
Toddlers get angry, really, really, angry – that's no secret. Getting angry and expressing their emotions is a developmental milestone for toddlers. Identifying emotions is the first step in managing emotions. When your toddler
is angry, or happy, or sad – help them by labeling the emotion. If they are sad or angry, tell them it will get better. When it does get better, they will start to regard you as an emotional expert (even if you aren’t one!).
As usual, this ended up being more of a learning experience for me than it was for him. I have almost three decades of life learning on how to control my anger and I almost lost my temper, no wonder he got so angry and didn’t know what to do. Poor little guy, he’s got so much to learn – but luckily he’s got calm and loving adults to guide him and help him through. Plus, there’s always good hugs at the end – and who doesn’t love hugs? Thinking about it that way even takes the terrible out of the twos for me.... well mostly.
Great Resource: http://www.zerotothree.org/
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